General English


  • noun a disease of which the scab is a symptom. It affects the skin of animals.
  • noun a fungal disease of fruit and vegetables, including potato scab and apple and pear scab


  • A short piece of wood fastened to two formwork members to secure a butt joint.
  • A slang term for a nonunion worker.


  • noun a hard crust of dried blood, serum or pus that forms over a wound during healing

Origin & History of “scab”

Old English had a word sceabb ‘scab’. this survived into modern English as shab, a dialectal synonym of scab, but it is only represented in the mainstream language by its derivative shabby. It is its Old Norse relative skabbr, borrowed in the 13th century as scab, which has become the general English term for a ‘crust over a wound’. The derogatory sense ‘strike-breaker’ emerged in the 19th century from an earlier, 16th-century ‘despicable person’. The word comes ultimately from the Germanic base *skab- ‘scratch, shave’ (source also of English shave (OE)), which was descended from the same Indo-European base that produced Latin scabiēs ‘itch’ (source of English scabies (14th c.), scabious (14th c.) – a plant so called because it was supposed to cure skin diseases – and scabrous (17th c.)).